Just 4 years ago, while I was pregnant with my baby girl, my mother's mom (Mama Antigua) transitioned and was healed from brain cancer on the other side of heaven. And shortly after, we were told that my mother wouldn't make it either. Just 4 years ago, I faced the possibility that today, I would be remembering her, not celebrating with her.
His voice was weak and kind. I see an old, feeble man with white hair and suddenly I knew exactly who he was. I paused, unsure of how to react. I had not seen this man since I told my mom what happened and she confronted him. How do I embody love and kindness in this moment, for a man that tainted my childhood. It was then that God reminded me that accepting God's love and forgiveness is the first step toward healing. Accepting that God extends that same love and forgiveness for the people that have hurt us is the first step toward wholeness. I was challenged to extend grace to a man, who probably didn't have the wherewithal to ask for forgiveness, so I forgave him anyway. He looks up at me and didn't recognize me. I smiled at him, introduced myself and said, I forgive you. It didn't feel forged. It didn't feel contrived. It was genuine. It was real. It was God. He stood pale and mute. I asked him to greet his family on my behalf and that I pray only the best for them.
I want to tell her that loving people no matter where they are in life, is what she is called to do and that serving her neighbor is the highest calling in response to serving God. I want to tell her that her smile is the entryway to bringing light to a dark world. I want to tell her that her primary identity is in Christ and that informs her being a strong AfroLatina (or as she says it: “blackominican”). No one can take that away from her. I want to tell her that there is nothing wrong with her Mommy being Dominican and her Daddy being Black and that no matter what, #love does transcend conflict and historical#cultural #tensions.
True love cultivates a kind of mutual surrender that yields a sharpening of love within each vessel. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that according to its true character, love will be patient, kind, protective, always trust, always hope, always perseveres and it rejoices in the truth.
It is when you have matured in love that you are able to love someone purely and truthfully – without the drama we have created because that’s what culture has taught us. Why? Because love does not envy nor boast. It isn’t proud, rude, self-seeking, easily angered, keep records of wrong nor does it delight in evil.
Loving our neighbor as ourselves means, being full aware of the wrong, but denying the right to remain angry or bitter, because the same grace that we receive and believe covered us and suffices for our weaknesses, suffices for them to the same degree.
Saying Yes to God means saying no to ourselves. It means relinquishing the natural humanistic response to pain and recognize the humanity in others. The humanity for which Christ died for. The humanity in need of God’s unconditional love, which calls to be reflected through us.